Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Blogger on

Here are two guest posts on

1) The Plateau Mindset: The Underlying Cause of Plateaus
2) Viking Warrior Condition Max VO2 tips

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An epiphany about the RKC Snatch Test after a 5K run

Today at Xtreme Athletix the workout of the day was something I did not expect. It was a simple one: Run a 5K

This was not something I was expecting, what made it worse was that:

1) It was hot as balls out, about 95F, and humid.

2) I was expecting a lifting workout. I wore my Converse All-Stars, and not running shoes. And no socks to boot.

3) Due to a miscalculation in laundry, I did not have any gym shorts. All I had were cargo shorts that hung lower than my knees.

Not exactly ideal conditions.

I finished 3 minutes before everyone in the class, even some runners. My coach asked me how long it has been since I ran that distance, and I said "1997". I have no idea if that is right, but I know I hate running.

About 3 hours later it got me thinking. Why did I do so well in a relative sense? I think that it was two reasons:

1) I am in shape, and

2) I know how to run. I actually scribed a running workshop about 1.5 months ago.

The first point I won't say much on, other than the fact that all things being equal, the fittest person wins. The cardiovascular system is not that specific to the task at hand. If you can move blood and exchange air using kettlebells, you can do it in any movement.

The second point I think is a big one. I learned how to run when I was 10 months old, so I really do see any reason to practice it. I know that if I need to, I will be able to do it. Not exactly a high skill endeavor (on a scale of 0-10, it would be in the square root club). What still surprises me is how many people run, and have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE how to do the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other. Here are some of the common errors that I see:

* Heel striking, putting undue forces on knees, backs, and ankles.
* Running upright, poor directionality of force.
* Arms are all over the place, leaking energy.
* Poor core function.
* Mouth breathing, inefficient use of the lungs.

A recent study showed that about 66% of runners get injured doing something that is a sub activity of most sports with much lower injury rates.

This got me thinking about the RKC snatch test, if you don't have to practice running all the time to be decent at running, why do people feel that they need to practice the snatch test to get decent at snatching. Why don't they just:

1) Get in shape, and

2) Learn to snatch.

I think the best example of this is how they program it in Enter The Kettlebell. I won't divulge the whole program, but you only snatch once a week. This program will get you in shape and you will groove a decent snatch technique, and that is all you need.

Enter the Kettlebell Book

But what is strange, is that when someone says "I want to be an RKC.", they think now they have to snatch all the time. You don't. Skill level wise, the snatch test is not in the square root club, but it is less than the number of toes you have on ONE of your Vibrams. Eventually, that person will probably tear up their hands or jack up their body. Here are some common errors that people make when programming their snatch preparation:

1) They practice way too often. Again, it is low skill level. You don't need to practice it every day or even every other day.

2) They start snatching before they have good swing technique and overhead mobility. The foundation is not their, but they are trying to build a house on it.

3) They add volume before the have good technique. All you are doing is learning how to snatch poorly. If you can't get nine reps in fifteen seconds in MaxVO2 with a light bell, and you are doing 25-40 minutes, put yourself in this category.

3) They never work on remedial snatch drills. Heavy snatches, dead snatches, double snatches, hang snatches, and fast snatches all have their place in improving different parts of the snatch path. It is amazing how many people "think" they always have to snatch the 24kg bell. Heavy bells work on force production, dead snatch FORCE hips to be first, doubles virtually eliminate an arm cast, and light/fast snatches eliminate motion leaks, hang snatches teach you to catch the bell with your hips and not your arms. When I see someone get hurt during snatches, usually their technique is jacked. When I see someone fail the snatch test, if it more likely their technique is subpar rather than their conditioning. They have probably been practicing garbage for months.

4) They don't wave intensity/weight and volume/duration. If you don't understand this concept, you have no business teaching anything other than a beach burpee boot camp. If you want to develop athletes, you have to balance frequency and load.

5) They test way too often. It this regard, testing is like looking in the mirror or weighing yourself. It doesn't change anything. Testing is not going to get you in shape or improve technique. What is also does is limit how often you can practice techique or remedial drills.

So if you are preparing for the RKC, does your preparation make sense, or are you being shortsighted? When my guys and gals take the snatch test, they almost always pass the first time. Why? I don't let them test until they are in shape and know how to snatch. This checkpoint actually lets someone be able to do this after 3-5 months of training. One last thing I will say is that when a runner trains with me, they get better at running, even though I do NO RUNNING with them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Brad Nelson Sissy Challenge, part II

My facebook friends and fellow RKCs Nicole Money and Shane England of The Edge in Dayton, OH dug up Brad Nelson's "Sissy Challenge" is a very simple but brutal test.

Here is the workout:
25 Burpees/1 swing,
24 Burpees/2 swings,
23 Burpees/3 swings,
2 Burpees/24 swings,
1 Burpee/25 swings
==> For Time (This works out to 325 burpees and swings.

==> I did this workout in 46:15 with a 32kg (including pushups and clapping jumps), here are the stats:
Average HR: 170 (95.0% of MHR)
Max HR: 184 (102.8% of MHR)
Cals: 761 (16.45/minute)

Here are some observations.

1) I did this about 4 years ago (pre-RKC) and did this in over 48 minutes with a 24kg bell. I was sore all over the next two days, right now I am fresh as a daisy. Quads, calves, chest, and hams were destroyed the first time.

2) The key to this is to keep moving. A hard but a steady pace you can maintain. With the burpees, which are really just a bunch of singles, break them up. So if you are doing 15 burpess, divide into manageable pieces, like 8 + 4 + 3 burpees. For some reason the "reverse ladders" (e.g., 23 burpees, do 11, 8, 4) seemed to work. I see a lot of people rush stuff in Met-Con type workouts, and there is not reason to. If the workout is going to take over 30 minutes, you don't need to rush or sprint. You will gas out. Split your workout so that you leave something in the tank.

3) During my first 25 burpees, my heart rate was in the mid-160s.

4) The first time I did this, I did the 25 swings first. I don't it made a huge difference - but I do think the front loaded burpees had more of a degrading effect over the backloaded swings than the front loaded swings had on the backloaded burpees.

5) I wasn't really "fresh" for this test. I did a pretty bad-ass (for me anyways) set of Max VO2 snatches. 20kg x 30 x 8L/:15 rest/8R/:15 rest.

6) I really was not looking forward to this. I probably procrastinated about 45 minutes before starting.

7) Once you start, you really can't stop. It is like a jail sentence.

8) The burpees started getting easier around the set of 16 burpees

9) The swings started to get hard around the 21 mark. There just wasn't enough burpee time to rest between. That is about the point where I split into two sets with minimal rest.

10) I am still of the opinion that lunges and burpees are the most rudimentary exercises that trainers who can't acually teach skills use.. People seem to pride themselved on not being able to walk after doing lunges, esp new trainees. Same with burpees. Don't brag about hurting your wrist doing burpees. All it means is that you are a dumbass. I only do burpees when it is part of a challenge or a boot camp workout that I am unfortunately participating in. The burpee is not exactly a high skill exercise. I was doing pushups at 4, jumping at 3, and clapping as soon as I knew I had hands. Not a high skill exercise. You don't need burpees to get in shape. I will say this, they do get the heart rate up, but so does a kick in the nads.

11) This part is just math, but doing this challenge from 1-20 is not 80% as hard as 1-25. In 1-25, you are doing 325 burpees and swings. In 1-20, you are only doing 210, or 65.%. Also, the hardest sets ARE over 25% harder.

12) One of my coaches called this the "Rhabdo challenge". I would set a time limit of 80 minutes on this. Anything after 80 minutes is not going to help you. If you can't do this in this time, I can't imagine how sore you are going to feel.

13) This test is nothing more than a gut check, but you will remember it. It is strange, but the workouts that I remember are ones with 1 or 2 exercises. For example, I did 154 315lb deadlifts in 30 minutes in the Jack Reape deadlift challenge. I could literally feel my heartbeat in my pelvic floor and felt HOT TO THE TOUCH four hours later. This had nothing on that. It is not always the most skilled or genetically gifted that wins, sometimes it is about what you got.

14) I could ring sweat out of the chest band of my heart rate monitor.

15) I am going to put this challenge up to my peeps at Xtreme Athletix, USF Kettlebell Club, and Core Fitness Solution.

16) I wouldn't even use this as a gauge of conditioning. So much depends on the quality of pushup and degree up jump. I would do this about every four years, just like the Olympics. I never miss the Olympics, and I won't miss this.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brian Sabean comments regarding Scott Cousins

Whenever a player, especially a star player such as Buster Posey, gets injured, emotions will get heated and controversy will ensue. Here are my thought on the matter.

I have refereed probably over 350 soccer games in my life. My primary job is to protect the players' safety and make sure to protect the integrity of the game. This is no different than any other sports official. In looking at a play like this, you have to look at two things:

1) Did Scott Cousins break any rules? Simply put, the answer is "no".

2) Did Scott Cousins take any liberties with Buster Posey? Absolutely not. He went towards the outside of the plate, and hit Posey on the left shoulder after he went to block the plate. The injury was to the left ankle because it was bent backwards. He was playing the game by the rule. If he was taking liberties, he wouldn't have checked to see if he was OK.

Now the other question is, should the rule be changed, to protect the players safety? Personally, I think so. The reason, you have a catcher who is stationary, that this going up against a guy who has a 30 yard head of steam. He is a sitting duck, and that is just not a fair situation. I also don't think that it adds anything to the game, unless you enjoy snuff films or kicking puppies. Change the rule so that:

1) You have to slide into the plate, and

2) The catcher can only block the plate IF they have posession of the ball.

This will make it fair!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heart Rate Monitor, Polar FT7

Hey everyone,

One of the biggest things they talk about in fitness is exercise intensity. Usually when they talk about this, they are referring to one of two ideas.
* Strength: % of 1RM (i.e., percentage of 1 Repetition Maximum, or the percentage of what you can lift one time)
* Cardiovascular: % of Maximum Heart Rate

For this discussion, I am talking about cardiovascular intensity. I bought a HR monitor to check this out. Here are some workouts that I have tracked.
* Lying Down: 55-58
* Sitting: 61-65
* Walking: 72-90
* KB Military Presses: Typically at the end of the workout my HR is in 85-100.
* DDR: 110-150 (will try snorkel and weighted vest versions)
* Swings: 150-160 (32kg and above, will try Tabata)
* MaxVO2 snatches: up to high 170s after about 20 minutes with the 20kg/8 reps
* Continuous 24kg snatches/burpees combo: ~ 160
* Going to try High Octane Cardio, Oly Lifting, and Bowling

I think the idea that my MaxHR is 179, and the corresponding Fat Burn and Cardiovasculature Conditioning Zones that come with it, are highly underestimated (and keep in mind, they are ESTIMATES).